Friday, June 09, 2006

More Liberal Sleaze and Corruption

Fri Jun 9 09:25:42 2006

By: Alexander Panetta /

OTTAWA (CP) - A number of Liberals are using taxpayer-funded parliamentary offices to promote party leadership bids and would be breaking federal election laws if they fail to refund the public purse.

Supporters of at least eight of the 11 leadership candidates have used MPs' offices on Parliament Hill to distribute partisan campaign material, according to e-mails obtained by The Canadian Press.

During parliamentary business hours, offices have churned out invitations on campaign letterhead to meet candidates, attend leadership launches, or get together with campaign staff.

One Liberal MP called the practice unethical and said it runs deeper than just e-mails.

"This is the tip of the iceberg," he said. "There are interns being used to do (campaign) work, there's the odd phone call to twist a colleague's arm.

"But that's not traceable."

The Canada Elections Act declares it illegal to make campaign contributions when ineligible, and sets out maximum penalties of a $1,000 fine or three months in jail for violating Section 497 of the act.

A spokeswoman for Elections Canada said MPs' staffers are ineligible to work on campaigns while being paid for their time from the public purse.

"These rules are very similar to those applicable to MPs during an election period," said spokeswoman Diane Benson.

She said any work done during business hours should be paid by the individual leadership campaign - not by the taxpayer.

"If a member of an MP's staff engages in leadership campaign work for the MP or for any other leadership contestants during normal working hours, then a proportionate share of that person's salary . . . must be included as a leadership campaign expense," she said.

"The same applies to the use of the member's office facilities or supplies."

Liberal party officials pointed out that leadership candidates still have a year to disclose their campaign expenses. They will be in full compliance with the law if they refund the government for the public resources they use.

One Liberal leadership campaign forwarded at least 17 e-mails to The Canadian Press from different parliamentary accounts that suggest campaign work is being done during business hours.

The e-mails were sent from supporters of Michael Ignatieff, Bob Rae, Gerard Kennedy, Stephane Dion, Hedy Fry, Maurizio Bevilacqua, Ken Dryden and Carolyn Bennett.

At the very least, those e-mails indicate that the leadership campaigns have used a few hundred dollars' worth of office time and equipment.

However, any campaign using office hours on more time-consuming pursuits - writing leadership speeches, lobbying supporters, updating websites, producing press releases - could be using tens of thousands of dollars in public resources.

The e-mails forwarded to CP were mainly brief, poster-style invitations for Liberals to attend campaign events.

One memorable e-mail invitation to join Hedy Fry this week for a campaign event in Ottawa promised an evening of "dancing with drag queens."

Liberal brass weren't amused by the accusations being levelled from within their own ranks. They said it's too early to rush to judgment on any of the candidates.

The leadership race ends in December, and candidates will have an additional six months to file their expense claims.

"We expect that all leadership campaign activities be fully disclosed and the expenses incurred to undertake those activities be fully disclosed," said Steven MacKinnon, the party's national director.

"Once (candidates) do that . . . they've complied with the law and the rules."

MacKinnon also pointed out that the Liberals have an internal complaints mechanism to deal with alleged transgressions. The party can impose fines of up to $100,000 or disqualify leadership candidates who break the rules.

The news comes on the heels of a controversy involving candidate Joe Volpe.

Volpe accepted $54,000 in 10 separate donations from the top two executives at generic drug manufacturer Apotex Inc., their wives and their six children - including 11-year-old twins.

He insisted he had done nothing wrong but agreed to return the money donated by the five donors under age 18.

Some of Volpe's rivals are still grumbling, however, that his continued presence in the race is harming Liberal efforts to rebuild the party's image following the sponsorship fiasco.

The latest leak of memos from MPs' offices will not help Liberals attain another precious objective for the coming months: party unity.

Most candidates have repeatedly said the party must move on from years of infighting between its Jean Chretien and Paul Martin factions.

The internal leaks, and the complaints about Volpe, suggest the party has slipped back into full-on, back-stabbing mode.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Liberal Plan To Cut Greenhouse Emissions a Dud: Researchers


OTTAWA (CP) - The Liberals' $12-billion plan to implement the Kyoto Protocol over seven years would have been largely ineffective, says an as-yet unpublished report by the C.D. Howe Institute.

The report, marked "do not cite or circulate," was written before the current government axed Project Green, as the plan was dubbed, and may have been a factor in the Conservatives' decision to scrap it.

Project Green largely relied on voluntary measures and incentives which have been shown not to work, says the study, which sarcastically calls the package "Project Dream."

"This policy approach will fail dramatically to meet national objectives and yet will entail a substantial cost," says the report, whose lead author is Mark Jaccard of Simon Fraser University.

The study was written in April and obtained by The Canadian Press on the weekend. It is finally expected to be made public this week.

The report says Project Green would have cost $12 billion by 2012, with much of that money being spent outside Canada.

It would have reduced emissions by 175 megatonnes compared with a business-as-usual scenario, far short of the 230 to 300 Mt. reduction required to meet Canada's Kyoto target.

Efforts like the One Tonne Challenge advertising campaign, which urged individuals to reduce their own greenhouse emissions through lifestyle changes, have "negligible effect," says the study.

"The policy approach of Canada since 1990 and continued with Project Green is clearly ineffective in causing the disconnection of GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions from the economic output that must take place if these emissions are to be reduced and their atmospheric concentrations stabilized at low risk levels."

Canada's domestic emissions remain on a path that would miss its Kyoto target by at least 270 Mt. in 2010, equivalent to almost a 30 per cent emissions gap, the study says.

"Indeed, the policy approach epitomized by Project Green allows emissions to continue to grow at close to their BAU (business-as-usual) rate."

Prime Minister Stephen Harper could use the report to buttress his claims about the ineffectiveness of the Liberal plan, but he probably won't like the alternatives it recommends.

The most effective policy would likely be a gradually rising tax on greenhouse gas emissions, combined with reductions in other taxes to ensure no net tax increase, says the report.

The main Conservative response to climate change so far has been to make transit passes tax deductible, which experts say will have little effect on emissions.

My Comments - We all knew this was coming, the liberals did nothing on this file, actually emissions went up by 35% inthe last 10 years, so the liberals have no credibility when it comes to saying they are an environmentally sensitive party. they signed onto Kyoto without consulting the provinces, this has just become another gun registry.

The last time I looked, the Sydney tar ponds are still there, and Paul Martin's company CSL is being investigated by DFO for dumping heavy metals in the Great Lakes - this sure ain't Mike Pearson's liberal party, more like a bunch of mafia bagmen.

Media Double Standard

Where was the outrage over Martin’s press policy?

By Lorrie Goldstein

My own view is that both Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Parliamentary Press Gallery (PPG) have been behaving like a couple of horse’s butts in their ongoing confrontation.

But since the PPG is insisting Harper is entirely wrong and it is entirely right in the many news reports and media panels devoted to this issue by various PPG members, I do have some questions about the credibility of the PPG’s position.

This ongoing war between the PPG and Harper over access to the new Conservative government re-ignited last week when Harper gave a television interview in which he accused the PPG of being biased against the Conservatives, adding a Liberal prime minister would never face this kind of opposition from the PPG. Harper’s comments were made in the aftermath of a recent walk out staged by PPG members during a news conference with the PM on Parliament Hill.

The PPG said this walkout was to protest Harper’s insistence that his own staff will choose who in the PPG gets to question Harper and the order in which they will do so, as opposed to past practice where a member of the PPG made these decisions.

The PPG argues Harper’s format will limit the ability of its members to aggressively question him, since his aides might deliberately ignore certain reporters.

But if this is the PPG’s most pressing concern about Harper’s relations with the media, why didn’t it just as strenuously object when former prime minister Paul Martin instituted precisely the same format for taking questions from the media during the last two federal election campaigns?

As Maclean’s Ottawa columnist Paul Wells wrote on his political blog ( on March 28:

“The biggest problem with our complaints that it’s the PM’s staff, not our fellow journalists, deciding who gets to ask questions is that that’s not new. Paul Martin innovated, in this matter, during the 2004 campaign when he answered only reporters his paid, partisan press aide, Melanie Gruer, acknowledged during daily news conferences. This practice continued for the duration of the 2006 campaign.

“I, for one, was pretty damned surprised to learn, in the second week of the 2004 campaign, that we were letting a Liberal decide who got to put questions to a Liberal prime minister. And during the entire 2004 campaign I didn’t get to put a single question to Martin in any formal news conference. (Grand total for 2006: one question, plus one follow-up.)

“But for the life of me I couldn’t get any of my travelling colleagues to show an ounce of concern about the practice. It sucked then and it sucks now, but it is a bit rich for everyone to start complaining only now.” Indeed.

Here’s David Akin, a parliamentary correspondent for CTV National News, commenting on the same issue in his political blog ( on May 18.

“During the last election campaign, incidentally, Prime Minister Paul Martin’s communications staff kept a list of reporters who wanted to ask questions and then they would call out a reporter from that list — just like the current PM is doing. During the week I was with him, covering Martin for CTV News, I got all of two questions ...”

If the PPG cares so much about this issue now as an infringement on press freedom, why didn’t it object just as publicly and loudly when the precedent was established by Martin and his staff in the 2004 and 2006 federal election campaigns?

Never mind Harper’s allegations that the PPG are closet liberals. Surely the more relevant point is that the PPG has undercut its own credibility in this confrontation — and lent credence to Harper’s charge that a Liberal PM would not be subjected to the same attack as he has been because ... well ... because that appears to be what happened.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Liberal Gun Registry Like Another Adscam


Good journalism cuts through the crap. Bad journalism just piles it higher.

Days before the release of Auditor General Sheila Fraser's latest report on the federal gun registry, certain news outlets (they know who they are) were reporting on an Ipsos-Reid poll which allegedly suggested most Canadians opposed the Conservatives' plan to scrap the registry.

"In Alberta, 51% of the people surveyed indicated the government should keep a registry system in place," read one press report.

Actually, that report was spinning the original poll so hard, it hovered. The poll actually found 54% of Canadians wanted the registry scrapped, and 56% blamed the previous government for blowing nearly a billion bucks on the project.

What was being spun was the fact that 67% of respondents supported the idea of having "some type of gun registry." One that actually keeps track of weapons. One that doesn't cost too much. An imaginary one.

I've been writing about the gun registry for six years now, and I've gotten pretty shy about predicting its pending demise (I've done it twice). The registry is harder to kill than a kitchen full of cockroaches.

The main political obstacle to killing the registry has always been that peculiar strain of sunny utopianism that is so, so Canadian. From an editorial in the Toronto Star, the last friend the registry has in the media: "Police use the registry to investigate gun crimes and determine if they might encounter firearms when responding to emergency calls."

Time to gut this particular red herring. Gun registry supporters love to talk about how it's receiving 6,500 police hits a day. But they won't break the numbers down by type of search or region.

In fact, according to the feds, any time anyone in the Toronto or Vancouver municipal police forces, or the RCMP in B.C., consults the CPIC database - to, say, run a plate number - the search automatically links to the firearms database.

Each of those CPIC searches is recorded as a separate search of the firearms database. The Toronto Police Service alone employs about 7,000 people.

Unless the registry has information it's not sharing with the rest of us, that 6,500-hit figure is completely meaningless.

"Now that Canadians have spent the money to put the gun registry in place, the real waste would be if Harper dismantles a program that is generally working well," the Star lamented.

"Working well"? Where did that come from? That bogus 6,500-hits-per-day estimate? They didn't get it from Fraser, who clearly stated in her report she did not "examine the effectiveness of the program or its social implications."

In fact, Fraser states that while the Canadian Firearms Centre claimed 90% compliance with licensing regulations in its 2003-04 report, it wouldn't offer a compliance figure for the following year because the information was "becoming outdated." It didn't know, in other words. That's telling.

"The centre does not show how (licensing and registration) help minimize risks to public safety," Fraser wrote.

More than a decade after its establishment, the registry still doesn't check its information against other federal and provincial databases. Half of the restricted and prohibited firearms listed in a pre-1995 database still haven't been reregistered with the CFC.

It gets worse. Much of the money wasted on the registry went into computer systems that either didn't work or couldn't keep up with constantly mutating federal regulations. The first system, CFIS I, was supposed to cost $85 million to develop. Actual price tag: $190 million.

The contract for CFIS II was inked before the contractor even had project specifications. No surprise, the system is two years overdue and set to cost about $90 million.

And that's just the tip of the iceberg. Fraser found that registry contracts funnelled through a branch of Public Works Canada were being directed to incumbent contractors - no competition. Frequently, she wrote, the CFC paid Public Works, which paid a consulting firm, which paid a subcontractor, which paid the contractor.

That's two extra commissions paid by taxpayers in exchange for nothing in particular. If that sounds familiar, it's because the same practice was used by the feds in the sponsorship program to pay out commissions in exchange for no services. This arrangement, Fraser wrote, drove up contract costs by an average of 25%.

"It has the look and feel of another Adscam," said John Williamson, head of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.

Final point: the government estimates a yearly saving from killing the registry of roughly $75 million. That'll buy you 700 Mounties to chase the people bringing smuggled guns, crystal meth and child pornography to your neighbourhood.

Sounds like a bargain.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Liberal Cowardice Demonstrates Their True Colors

Windsor Star
Published: Friday, May 19, 2006

On a day a female Canadian soldier was killed taking a courageous stand in Afghanistan, the Liberals that sent her there didn't have the guts to make a stand in the House of Commons.

The Liberals refused as a party to support or oppose an extension of the mission by two years and allowed MPs to vote their conscience or lack of it. It was a calculating, cowardly move that gives the party room to wiggle in the future depending on how the winds of war shape public opinion.

The Bloc Quebecois and New Democratic Party voted against extending the mission, and while that sends a deflating message to the troops abroad, the stance of both parties was at least principled and firm. The Conservatives voted in favour of extending the mission and 24 Liberals, including interim leader Bill Graham and leadership hopefuls Michael Ignatieff and Scott Brison, joined them. The motion to extend the mission passed by a margin of 149-145.

Not only did the Liberals fail to take a position on this vital issue but several Grits, including former prime minister Paul Martin, didn't even bother to show up for the vote. When Prime Minister Stephen Harper rose in Parliament to argue in favour of the extension, only 26 of 102 Liberals MPs were there to hear him. Martin led the Liberal party when it sent our troops to Afghanistan without a parliamentary vote.

The Liberals maintained their indifference and indecisive fence-sitting wasn't a reflection of their support for the mission or the troops but a reflection of their disapproval of Harper for calling the vote on such short notice. Soldiers mourning the loss of Captain Nichola Goddard, the 17th Canadian soldier killed in Afghanistan since 2002 and the first Canadian woman soldier killed in combat, can be forgiven for missing the distinction.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Media flunking out in Harper 101



Now that the media are finished grading Prime Minister Stephen Harper's first 100 days in office, let's grade the media on their coverage of Harper's first 100 days in office.

In a word, it's been terrible, starting with the fact the media couldn't even agree on which day marked Harper's first 100 days in office.

Indeed, if you seem to recall reading pieces about Harper's first 100 days in office for two weeks now, that's because you have been.

Some media decided Harper's 100th day in office was Tuesday, May 2, the day Harper brought down his first budget, marking 100 days since the Jan. 23 election.

Others decided Harper's 100th day in office is today, the day Federal Auditor-General Sheila Fraser is expected to eviscerate the Liberal gun registry (again) marking 100 days since Harper took power Feb. 6.

For failing to agree on which day marks Harper's first 100 days in office, a rather significant point when you're writing about his first 100 days in office, the media get an "F."

Further, the fact Harper is in office at all means the media get another "F" for political prognostication.

Remember how we in the media killed entire forests writing about how Harper would never become prime minister because he was (a) too scary (b) too emotionless (i.e. wooden) (c) too emotional (i.e. angry) (d) a lousy people person (e) unable to get along with the media (f) unable to get along with Belinda Stronach, and (g) because Canadians feared his "hidden agenda?"

Well, as it turned out, these predictions were wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong and wrong.

In fact, a poll released at the start of the last election campaign showed more Canadians thought Paul Martin and the Liberals had a "hidden agenda" than Harper and the Conservatives. But when have the media ever let what Canadians think get in the way of making bold predictions? Wrong, but bold.

Speaking of Martin, the media get an "F" on predicting his political future, too.

Remember when he finally won control of the Liberal party from Jean Chretien in late 2003?

Remember how the media told you Martin might win more than 200 of Parliament's 308 seats in the next election? Well, Martin certainly captured more than 200 seats. Only thing is, it took him two elections to do it, not one, which is why he's now an opposition backbencher instead of prime minister.

The reason media predictions are usually so wrong is that we generally believe the next election will always be fought like the last one. This is the same logic employed by stupid military generals (and Martin election strategists) who always predict the next war will be fought like the last one.

In the Liberals' case, since Jean Chretien won three majority governments in a row (1993, 1997 and 2000), the media expectation when Martin became PM, especially since the media had anointed him Canada's political messiah, was that he would win an even bigger majority in 2004. Oops.

Then, after Harper held Martin to a minority in 2004, the conventional media wisdom heading into the 2006 vote was that Martin would win either (a) another minority or (b) a narrow majority. Double Oops.

Now, since polls taken following the Jan. 23 election show Harper's Conservatives about 10 points ahead of the Liberals and hovering around 40% of popular support -- the minimum needed for a majority -- the conventional media wisdom is that Harper is poised to win a majority next time.

This from the same folks who told you he was unelectable two years ago.

Maybe an "F" is too generous.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

More Decisive Conservative Government - Crime Legislation

Updated Thu. May. 4 2006 10:57 AM ET News Staff

The Tories put forward two new anti-crime bills today -- aimed at toughening the country's justice system.

One of the bills seeks to impose mandatory minimum sentences for drug trafficking, weapons offences, crimes committed while on parole, and for repeat and violent offenders.

The other looks to ban conditional sentencing for serious and violent offences and end house arrest for serious offences.

Federal Justice Minister Vic Toews tabled the new crime bills in the Commons today.

He said tougher crime measures are needed to crack down on violent, dangerous and repeat offenders.

"We wanted to focus on specific types of crimes, these are guns and gangs," Toews told reporters outside the Commons Thursday.

Critics, however, have suggested the legislation will overload prisons and cost the federal government millions of dollars.

"Criminologists do not support his analysis," legal analyst Julian Falconer told CTV Newsnet Thursday.

"We have no proof that jailing more people stops crime. What are we doing by way of preventative measures?"

The Conservatives have pledged to create a mandatory DNA data bank for sex offenders, and end "defence loopholes" for child pornography.

They have also promised a third anti-crime bill this spring, which would raise the age of sexual consent from 14 to 16.

Government officials say that bill is still being developed.

Today's announcement follows Tuesday's federal budget pledge of $1.4 billion over two years to increase Canada's security -- including increasing the number of police officers on the streets.

Conservatives promised to hire 1,000 more Royal Canadian Mounted Police with a $161 million increase in funding to the force.

The budget also pledged $37 million to expand the RCMP National Training Academy to accommodate the new officers, and $20 million for communities to prevent youth crime, with a focus on guns, gangs and drugs.

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said he will increase prison spaces to accommodate any increase in sentencing.

At a speech in Winnipeg last month, Prime Minister Stephen Harper outlined the criminal justice reforms his government was planning to take led by Toews.

"The safe streets and safe neighbourhoods that Canadians have come to expect as being part of our way of life are being threatened by rising levels of gun, gang, and drug crime," Harper said on April 19.

Harper promised to "completely overhaul" the criminal justice system by increasing police forces across the country and by toughening up sentences during last winter's federal election campaign.

The pledge to "prevent crime by putting more police on the street and improving the security of our borders" was also repeated in last month's throne speech.

My Comments - The critics to this legialstion are obviously happy with the status quo where child predators and serious offenders are treated like royalty and victims rights are not protected.

The liberals did nothing to protect Canadians in their coddling and weak justice system, Harper and the Conservatives stated in the election - if you do serious crime, you will do serious time.

It looks like Harper and the Conservatives are actually leading this country after 13 years of liberal dithering, corruption, and fence-sitting.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Budget Highlights - More Money In My Pocket Is a Good Thing

Kirsten Smith, CanWest News Service
Published: Tuesday, May 02, 2006

The budget calls for about $30 billion in new spending which includes the reallocation of $3.6 billion in current expenditures. Here are the highlights.

Personal Income taxes

- Reduce the GST from 7 per cent to 6 per cent at a cost of $8.6 billion over two years.

- Create a new Canada Employment Credit worth up to $1000. This will cost $2.7 billion over two years.

- Reduce the lowest tax rate from 16 per cent to 15.5 per cent. This will cost $3 billion dollars over two years.

- The basic personal exemption, the amount you can earn tax free, will increase slightly to $8,839. This change will cost $1.58 billion over two years.

- Changes to the rules to allow for the family transfer of fishing property at cost of $120 million over two years.

Education and Training.

- Creation of the Apprenticeship Job Creation Tax Credit for employers to offset the cost of hiring apprentices. This will cost $390 million over two years.

- Creation of the Apprenticeship Incentive Grant of $1,000 per year to encourage people to enter the trades. This will cost about $110 million over two years.

- A $500 deduction for the cost of new tools over $1,000. This will cost $155 million over the next two years.

- Elimination of federal income tax on scholarships, bursaries and fellowships. This program will cost $95 million over two years.

- Creation of the Textbook Tax Credit, which will cost $260 million over two years.

- Expanding the number of students who can use the Canada Student Loans Program

- Investing in research and development at a cost of $200 million over two years.

New Canadians

- Reduce the right or Permanent Residence Fee from $975 per person to $490. This will cost of $224 million over two years

- Increase in immigration settlement funding to $307 million over two years

- Progress on foreign credential recognition. $18 million over two years.

Jobs and the Economy

- Elimination of the federal capital tax at a cost of $1.02 billion

- Reducing taxes for small business, which will cost $90 million over two years.

- Repealing the excise tax on jewelry will cost $80 million over two years.

- Reducing excise duties for small vintners and brewers at a cost of $35 million over two years.

- Eliminate the double taxation of large corporate dividends will costs $685 over two years.

- A mineral exploration tax credit will cost $65 million over two years.

- Modify the minimum tax on financial institutions will cost $45 million over two years.

Security and policing

- $204 million to the RCMP for hiring and expanding the training depot.

- $20 million for youth crime prevention

- $15 million for the DNA databank

- $26 million for victims of crime

- $38 million for emergency response

- $95 million for passenger rail and urban transit security.

- $133 million to the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority.

- For various programs to enhance border security, national emergency response, a no fly list and arming border guards will cost $404 million over two years.

- Preparing for a pandemic, $460 over two years

The military

- $1.125 billion for the Canadian Armed Forces. This will hire more troops, buy unspecified equipment, improved base infrastructure and Arctic sovereignty and restore a regular army presence in British Columbia.

Aboriginal Canadians

- Over the next two years the Government will spend $450 million on education, women, water and housing

- There is already $2.2 billion set aside for payments to residential school survivors.

- There is a further $600 million for off reserve and northern housing but it is contingent upon a large enough budget surplus for 2005-06. The final figures will not be released until the fall of 2006.


- A tax credit on the purchase of public transit passes to encourage the use of mass transit. This will cost $370 million over two years.

- Accelerate capital cost allowance for forestry bioenergy. This will cost $30 million over two years.


- Highways and border fund will cost $585 million over two years.

- The Pacific Gateway Initiative at $91 million over two years.

- $181 million over two years for the Strategic Infrastructure Fund

- $532 million over two years to renew the Municipal Rural Infrastructure Fund.

The Arts

- Eliminate capital gains on donations to charities will cost $110 million over two years.

- The Canada Council of the Arts will receive $50 million extra in the next two years.


- Universal Child Care Benefit to children under six. This measure will cost $3.7 billion in the next two years.

- $250 million over two years to create new childcare spaces.

- Physical fitness tax credit for children under 16 will cost $200 million over two years.

- An increase the to Child Disability Benefit will cost $80 million over the next two years.

- $104 million over two years for a national cancer strategy.

- Tax assistance to pensioners will cost $895 million in the next two years.


- $400 million over two years to combat the pine beetle infestation, mostly in B.C

- Improving farm support programs will cost $2 billion in the next two years.

The Provinces

- One time extra funding of $255 million for equalization.

Conservatives Lead Separatists: Poll

Tue May 02, 08:12 AM EST

OTTAWA (Reuters) - The Conservatives are rapidly gaining support in Quebec and are now more popular than the province's separatist party, according to a new poll published on Tuesday.

The CROP poll for La Presse put the Conservatives at 34 percent in Quebec, up from the 25 percent the party won during the January 23 election. The separatist Bloc Quebecois, which a few months ago was flirting with 50 percent backing, dropped to 31 percent from 42 percent on January 23.

The Conservatives, led by Stephen Harper, unexpectedly took 10 of Quebec's 75 seats in the election, helping them win a fragile minority federal government and thereby ending 12 years of Liberal rule.

"Thanks to his attitude, his gestures and his speeches, Mr Harper has clearly succeeded in getting closer to Quebec since the January 23 election," CROP's Claude Gauthier told La Presse.

The poll contained more bad news for the Liberals, who once dominated the province but were brought down last November by a corruption scandal which centered on Quebec. The party sank to 15 percent support from 20 percent on January 23.

CROP also found that 56 percent of Quebecers were satisfied with the federal government, an enormous jump from the 22 percent recorded in a CROP poll from January 11 to 16 this year.

The survey of 1,002 people was carried out between April 20 and 30 and is considered to be accurate to within 2.3 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

Harper Shows Decisive Leadership - Softwood Lumber

Edmonton Sun Editorial

Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his team pulled off quite the coup by reaching a solution with Washington last week on the decades-long exhausting softwood lumber dispute.

Under the new seven-year agreement, Canadian lumber companies will get back $4 billion of the $5 billion the U.S. imposed on duties on our softwood exports.

It's true that in future, Canadian softwood exports will be limited to 34% of the $10-billion U.S. market, but at least we have a guarantee of that market share without fear of new sanctions.

Over the past decade, hundreds of Canadian workers have lost their jobs and smaller companies have fallen victim to the sanctions and shut down operations.

Now there'll be long-term stability, and the industry will know the rules of the game.

Evidence of just how hard-won a fight this was came at the 11th hour, when Canadian negotiators were still trying to pull the governments of B.C., Ontario and Quebec onside and their U.S. counterparts were still trying to sell it to their special interest groups.

Politically, this is a coup similar to Harper's astonishing visit to shake hands with our men and women in uniform on the front lines in Afghanistan.

Perhaps that's why interim Liberal Leader Bill Graham and NDP Leader Jack Layton feign such outrage.

Graham's arm-waving stance is a charade. For the best part of the 13 year Jean Chretien-Paul Martin era, the Liberals tried to negotiate a solution with Washington and failed.

Layton charged that Harper has settled for 80 cents on the dollar.

Perhaps the NDP leader would rather have 100% of nothing than 80% of $5 billion. If so, he better try explaining that to the working men and women who depend on the softwood lumber industry for their livelihoods.

Another winner is beleaguered International Trade Minister David Emerson, who crossed the floor to join the Conservatives within days of being re-elected as a Liberal MP in Vancouver. Emerson can now ask his constituents whether they prefer a representative at the Harper cabinet table or not.

Harper's growing friendship and influence with President George W. Bush was obviously the final key to bringing this controversy to a close.

The Liberals insulted Bush at every touch and turn. The Conservatives know this is not the way to get results from the Americans. Winning is what it is all about.

Harper has done more in his almost three months in power than Martin did in almost two years.

This lumber deal is what leadership looks like.

My Comment - The liberals did nothing on the softwood countervail issue since it started in 2000, since then dozens of mills closed and the Canadian softwood sector took a huge hit. The liberals did not support the industry with loan guarantees(but they had money for a $2 billion useless gun registry)

Harper is getting the best deal for the softwood industry, and because of the liberals inaction, the industry had to take this deal because they are in desperate economic times. Is this the best outcome possible? No, but its sure better than anything we've seen from the liberals in 6 years.